What’s What 7/1/24

Staying local and an unexpected revelation.

Inked Right Now

  • Parker Duofold International with Teranishi Fujiyama Irodori Rin

  • Spoke Icon with Nagasawa Kobe #59 Hirano Gion Romance

  • Zebra Sarasa Grand with Zebra Blue Gray

Gone from last time: Taccia Spectrum, Parker Duofold Maxima, Pelikan Steno. In other words, everything.

Staying local refers to diving back into my own collection for the next pen to ink rather than searching outside for new things to acquire. Shopping my own store, if you will. It’s an easy perspective to lose sight of at times but worth keeping near the top of my mind.

I was editing my pen list in Fountain Pen Companion and then sorted the list to see what I hadn’t used in a while. Has it really been two-ish years since I used some of these pens? Yes, it has, so I picked a few to dust off and ink up.

The Duofold International is a great pen in pretty much every way for me. Stunning chatoyant blue material, broad italic nib that’s more smooth than sharp, and very comfortable to write with. I paired it with the newest ink I have — Rin purple from Teranishi’s Fujiyama Irodori line. I didn’t know about this set of inks until I was browsing Jetpens for some multipen refills a few weeks ago and stumbled across it. It looks more blue-black than purple in the image above because I couldn’t get a good picture with my phone and had to scan the page instead. I’ll add some better shots of the color later. It flows well in the Parker and isn’t too wet. I decided to use this combination as my daily journal pen for the month, replacing the Duofold Maxima.

The Spoke Icon can confuse you at first sight. Looks like it could be a flashlight. Or maybe a hand tool of some sort, where under the cap you’d find a specialty screwdriver or a pointy scriber. It would be perfectly at home in a tool box given the black Delrin body and silver metal accent. But the Icon is a fountain pen and it’s a pleasure to use thanks to one of the best metal grips I’ve found on any pen. It originally came a with nice EF nib, but I wanted something bigger this time out. Not another stub or italic since the Parker has that covered. How about a broad architect? Yes, that’s the ticket. I covered this nib in a previous entry and each time I use it I’m glad I took a chance on it five years ago. I chose another recently acquired ink for this pen — Kobe Nagasawa #59. It’s a dark gray that pulls off some shading with the wide architect lines.

Now to the outlier. Something looks odd in this week’s trio, right? Since when does a gel pen land in the fountain pen centered currently inked lineups? It took being the best off the shelf gel pen I’ve used. Like, ever. It took being good enough to compete with my preferred rollerballs as a legitimate daily carry option. It took the latest iteration of the Zebra Sarasa Grand with blue gray ink.

Okay, that came off as dramatic, but this pen impressed me greatly. I know Zebra makes solid products. I used to love their Zeb Roller 2000 and steel-bodied F series pens once upon a time. However, Zebra hasn’t done much for me in a while. Their inks are fine but the pen bodies tended to miss in one way or another. The previous version of the Sarasa Grand got my hopes up until I tried it. The clip sat too high and got in the way of my thumb when clicking the pen open or closed. The 2024 version addresses that issue and I’m fine with the click action now. So, it’s a high-quality body that I can operate cleanly, but what elevates the Sarasa Grand to best gel pen status?

The ink.

This blue gray shade is great. It’s right in line with Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue and Akkerman New East Indigo fountain pen inks. Something about the color just hits me square and I crumble, in a good way. It’s nice to get surprised with that experience from anything. This time it happened to come from a gel pen, which is among the last things I’d expect to provide it.

If the Sarasa Grand sounds interesting to you, Joe at The Gentleman Stationer has a write up on them and they’re available in his shop as well. I didn’t get my Sarasa from Joe but I’ve bought other items from him before and always had an excellent customer experience.


1 July 2024